Lothar Matthaus spoke out on Germany’s squad just days before the opening day of the World Cup, and had very little praise for his national side.
Matthaus, who is Germany’s most capped player of all time with 150 caps, is a living legend of the game. Maradona said about Matthaus, ‘he is the best rival I’ve ever had. I guess that’s enough to define him.’ High praise, coming from the man many consider to be the greatest player of all time.
While Matthaus’ opinions must be respected and should not be taken for granted, some of what he says is just pessimistic. And right before the opening of the tournament, it’s not what Joachim Loew will want to be reading in the press, and it’s not something the players will appreciate either.
“Expectations are high in Germany, but other countries have caught up fast since 2006. Germany lack the brilliant individuals who can settle a match on their own, and that’s been obvious for some years now,”
Germany lack the brilliant individuals who can settle a match on their own? I beg to differ. Mesut Ozil may be young and widely unknown to many football fans, but he can easily be compared with Holland’s Wesley Sneijder or Brazil’s Robinho. He will produce this World Cup, and will most likely be in line for a major move to one of Europe’s elite clubs.
Marko Marin, also very young, is an explosive winger who can make the most out of very little. Time and again, during Germany’s friendlies leading up to this summer’s World Cup, he has shown what a difference he can make to the team’s attacking potential.
These two players are just a glimpse at what Germany will be bringing to the table this summer. If teams underestimate Germany because of injuries to Michael Ballack and Simon Rolfes and Rene Adler, then they will be reminded in full that this German side is still a force to be reckoned with.
“I have European champions Spain, Confederations Cup winners Brazil, and Argentina at the top of my list to lift the trophy. They can pick from the best players in the world. The Netherlands have great players too, but with the exception of 1974 and 1978, they’ve never really done well at the World Cup. There’s a tendency for their individuals to play to the gallery, and that affects their performance as a team.”
Matthaus’ point here is reasonable and should not be dismissed. Germany are not seen as one of the big favourites to win the tournament, and usually they are. In years past, Germany are always expected to reach the semi-finals. This time around, Germany are not expected to make the noise they usually do. Matthaus outlines the favourites in his quote, and Germany is not amongst them. Maybe, just this once, not being the favourites will work to Germany’s advantage. Usually, Germany know what is expected of them and feel the pressure to succeed at all times. This time, the expectations are maybe not as great, and so the pressure which must be so hard to play under isn’t there as much as usual. Germany, for once, are the dark horses. And Germany will show the world, like they have so many times before in this competition, why they can never be counted out.
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